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World's Largest Cluster Of Sinkholes Unearthed, Deeper Than The Height Of Eiffel Tower (Video)

First Posted: Nov 30, 2016 02:33 AM EST
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Scientists unearthed 49 large sinkholes in Hanzhong City in China. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : Chris Livingston/Getty Images)

Scientists found 49 natural sinkholes covering an area of more than 600 square kilometers in Hanzhong City in China. This cluster of sinkholes is considered the largest in the world.

A sinkhole is also referred to as swallet or swallow hole. It is a hole in the ground triggered by a form of the collapse of the surface layer. Most of the sinkholes are caused by the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffosion processes. It has different sizes ranging from 1 to 600 meters both in diameter and depth. They are also found all around the world.

The cluster of sinkholes uncovered in China comprises of a massive sinkhole that measures about 520 meters in diameter and 320 meters deep. The rest of the sinkholes include 17 big sinkholes and 31 average-sized sinkholes, according to Stuff World.

The sinkholes are known as "tiankengs" in China spread in four counties of Hanzhong City, namely, the Ningqiang, Nanzheng, Xixiang and Zhenba. They pass along a 200 km long "karst landform belt" in the Qinling-Bashan Mountains of southwest Shaanxi. The 49 sinkholes were discovered during a recent survey around Hanzhong City. The discovery was led by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Geological Science.

According to Science Alert, the largest sinkhole is about deeper than the Eiffel Tower in height and its diameter is wider than the height of the Empire State Building. Wang Weihua, the chief of the Department of Land Resources of Shaanxi, said that the largest one was in Zhenba, which had the largest diameter of 520 meters (1,706 feet) and a maximum depth of 320 meters (1049 feet). He further said that Hanzhong tiankeng cluster is rare, complete and spectacular in a landscape. He added that it has met international geological standards and has potential scientific and tourism value.

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